Methionine- and Choline-Deficient Diet Identifies an Essential Role for DNA Methylation in Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Biology

J Immunol. 2022 Feb 15;208(4):881-897. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2100763. Epub 2022 Jan 31.


Diet plays an important role in lifestyle disorders associated with the disturbed immune system. During the study of methionine- and choline-deficient diet-induced nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, we observed a specific decrease in the plasmacytoid dendritic cell (pDC) fraction from murine spleens. While delineating the role for individual components, we identified that l-methionine supplementation correlates with representation of the pDC fraction. S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) is a key methyl donor, and we demonstrate that supplementation of methionine-deficient medium with SAM but not homocysteine reverses the defect in pDC development. l-Methionine has been implicated in maintenance of methylation status in the cell. Based on our observed effect of SAM and zebularine on DC subset development, we sought to clarify the role of DNA methylation in pDC biology. Whole-genome bisulfite sequencing analysis from the splenic DC subsets identified that pDCs display differentially hypermethylated regions in comparison with classical DC (cDC) subsets, whereas cDC1 and cDC2 exhibited comparable methylated regions, serving as a control in our study. We validated differentially methylated regions in the sorted pDC, CD8α+ cDC1, and CD4+ cDC2 subsets from spleens as well as FL-BMDC cultures. Upon analysis of genes linked with differentially methylated regions, we identified that differential DNA methylation is associated with the MAPK pathway such that its inhibition guides DC development toward the pDC subtype. Overall, our study identifies an important role for methionine in pDC biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Choline / metabolism*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism*
  • Diet*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Homeostasis
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunophenotyping
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Methionine / deficiency
  • Methionine / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • Transcriptome


  • Biomarkers
  • Methionine
  • Choline